October 6, 2022

US paediatrician attacks surrogacy

A paediatrician at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, in New York, has published a blistering rebuttal of surrogacy.

Supporters of surrogacy often claim that on the whole, women in developing countires benefit from the system, as they earn years of wages from a single pregnancy. However, a paediatrician at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, in Minnesota, has published a blistering rebuttal in the International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics. Jonathan W. Knoche writes:

On a psychological and philosophical level, the acceptance of international surrogacy requires an alteration of the view of a woman and the process of reproduction. The international market of industrialized reproduction necessitates the uterus to be viewed as a mere commodity—something distinct from the whole woman. Within this market-oriented mentality, the commodity of a womb is fungible (i.e. any one of them can be substituted for any other similar commodity, given that the quality and price are the same). Thus, a gestational surrogate is essentially seen as a glorified incubator. Carriers become commodities. To view human persons as parts or commodities primarily for our use and exploitation is dubious. No human being—or her parts—should be treated as a commodity precisely because we are whole subjects, not fragmented organs. When humans are viewed primarily as objects for amusement, experimentation, or manipulation, grave atrocities have been committed. Thus, to view and treat a woman as a mere incubator belies her dignity and worth as an individual person and defies the core tenets of international human rights.

Furthermore, international surrogacy is a coalescing of the market mentality and globalization combined with modern notions of reproductive choice and reproductive industrialization. IVF, gamete catalogues, commercial surrogacy arrangements, and efforts to create an artificial womb reflect low-cost ways to fulfil our reproductive consumerist dreams. Harvard political philosopher Michael Sandel writes, “we live at a time when almost everything can be bought and sold…We have drifted from having a market economy, to being a market society.” 

Michael Cook
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